How Tech Is Helping Fight Maternal and Neonatal Deaths in Rural India

Tech innovators want to ensure safer pregnancies in India, which reports some of the highest maternal and newborn deaths in the world

Puja Changoiwala


ASHA workers with the CareMother kit. Photo: CareMother

WWhen Rani Kalyan Parad, a 26-year-old woman from the western Indian state of Maharashtra, learned that she was pregnant with her first child four years ago, she was overjoyed. Nine months later, when her son arrived, the elation turned into her biggest heartache. The boy weighed a total of 2.5 pounds — less than half the low birth weight defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) — had difficulty breathing, and within three days, succumbed. Parad was left battling for her life too.

“There were many complications in the pregnancy: My hemoglobin and nutrition levels were particularly low. But I didn’t know this then,” says Parad, who works as an agricultural laborer in Khojewadi village for a daily pay of INR 200 ($2.80). “During those nine months, I hadn’t had a single medical checkup. The closest hospital was in the city of Aurangabad, more than 16 miles away. One visit meant losing out on a day’s wages as well as costs of at least INR 2000 [$28].”

AAccording to UNICEF, an estimated 800 women die of pregnancy-related causes across the world every day, and…